AltLuxe

Posts from the “AltLuxe: the New Luxury” Category

Care about sustainability? Get serious about your brand.

Posted on January 23, 2018

“Brand” is one of those words – a little like “luxury”– that feels the very antithesis of “sustainability”. For many, it bespeaks glossy magazine ads, splashy parties, and a general glitz that feels gross, vulgar. And in many ways it is, as it pumps up demand for things we don’t want. But ironically, for all the importance of using sustainable materials and processes, the single most important act of sustainability is to not create more waste to begin with. In our society, waste implies that there is no market demand for a given item and that while it may have inherent value, it doesn’t have economic value. And things that lack economic value are waste. SO the imperative is to create value. One of…

5 ways to reinvent retail.

Posted on December 6, 2017

This post is a companion to A Cure for What Ails Big Retail + Getting Experiential Retail Right.  If you love a good experiment, as I do, the last few months in retail should have made you pretty happy. Having now cycled through the classic grief-response phases of Denial (it can’t happen to me); Anger (can’t we put Amazon out of business); Bargaining (continuous discounting + perhaps a new look); and Depression (dithering, procrastination and turning to the usual drugs, like financial engineering); a growing chunk of the retail world has finally reached some sort of Acceptance. But acceptance of what? That one should chuck it all in and sell on Amazon? No. Acceptance of an existential question: what, exactly, is the purpose of a store in…

Getting experiential retail right

Posted on July 31, 2017

Summer 2017. In the US, the retail carnage continues, with each week bringing another story of store closures and bankruptcies. Having vanquished all but the most scrappy book, electronics, and mall stores, Amazon is making its move into brick and mortar stores, and mulling its plans for pharmacy. Neiman Marcus can’t even get itself bought. And Nordstrom is taking itself private. Talk of retail reinvention is everywhere. Notably absent in much of the conversation are explorations addressing the most crucial and enduring parts of the retail equation: + creating covetable products; + having a clear and differentiated brand (what, as a merchant, do you stand for); + good old customer service. Instead, much of the talk has centered on changing up the “retail experience”.…

Learning to wait

Posted on August 9, 2016

I recently received a gift from no less than Francois-Henri Pinault, the head of Kering, which holds a good chunk of the luxury industry. No, it wasn’t a little something from McQueen or Stella McCartney, or even a pair of Pumas. No, M. Pinault said something a few months back that really got me thinking differently. The occasion was his comment on an announcement by Burberry that it would move toward letting consumers “shop the runway”, doing away with the practice of having Fall collections shown in Spring and Spring collections shown in the Fall. Paul Smith and Michael Kors followed.  The Guardian dubbed it “See Now, Shop Now”. Now, all this made eminent sense to me: the idea that in this day and age there’d be this time lag between showing and making…

Skin deep

Posted on March 14, 2016

Some days, I feel I’m drowning in imagery. It’s not just the time spent in front of my computer or phone that’s the culprit. There’s the extraordinarily good stuff on TV: Netflix and House of Cards and Game of Thrones and Empire and The Americans and Downton Abbey…There are the print magazines with which I’m obsessed …  There’s the constant design image grazing I do for work, the FOMO (as in, “Didn’t you see that great room / sofa / tile installation / wooden spoon on insta?”) and the constant battle to find the right images, get the rights, edit them, get them in … there’s even the beauty of where I live and work – the sunsets, the rain, the interiors, the products, the factory, the ironic streetscapes (or…

Undone by design

Posted on November 16, 2015

Just over a year ago, my partner and I moved house. Radically different from what we’d lived in before, it required a big rethink of how we wanted the space to be. And it was more than that: moving house was something I’d done a dozen or so times before, but this time it was about making home. This was great. I adore design. I work in a design-focused company and write a blog about craft, design, and aesthetics. I hang out with people who venerate “Design”. (Cue grand music.) As a result I consume an endless succession of shelter magazines, blogs and books and my head is daily filled with beautiful spaces, places, and things. I have a sense of my own style. I have opinions. So doing my own space would be…

The thing about things

Posted on September 7, 2015

At long last, I’m weighing in on the unlikely book that blew the minds of publishers everywhere: a book from a little known (in the West, at least) Japanese home organization consultant. I’m of course talking about Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. But I’m not that surprised. Because the book taps into a very deep craving for the values she’s espousing. The values of pleasure and joy and ruthlessness and clarity. The book is not just another self-help book (though there are some embarrassingly awesome ideas on how to organize your underwear drawer): it’s a philosophy for living and even consuming. For those who’ve been otherwise occupied, the book is nominally about de-cluttering. But it’s not it’s not the usual one about…